Powered by WebAds

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Florida Senator calls on Assad

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida - a state with one of the largest Jewish populations in the US - spent an hour with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus yesterday. While the State Department expressed its 'opposition' to the visit - in which Nelson asked Syria to be more 'helpful' in Iraq - the US embassy in Amman, Jordan provided Nelson with transportation from Amman to Damascus.
Syrian officials say Damascus is encouraged by the report by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which urged President George W. Bush to abandon his policy of trying to isolate Syria and Iran and resume attempts to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Assad "clearly indicated a willingness to cooperate" in controlling its border with Iraq, Nelson told reporters in a conference call following the meeting with Assad. The U.S. says foreign fighters often enter Iraq across that boundary.

Nelson said he reported the information to embassy officials and will brief his congressional committees on the trip. He said he expects Senators John Kerry, Christopher Dodd and Arlen Specter to also visit Syria.

The White House said it does not encourage members of Congress to travel to Syria.

"We don't think that members of Congress ought to be going there," White House press secretary Tony Snow said, adding that the United States continues to denounce Syria's meddling in Lebanon and its ties to terrorist groups.

"We've talked to Syria. We have diplomatic relations with Syria. I think it's a real stretch to think the Syrians don't know where we stand or what we think. It's not as if there's been failure to communicate. The communication has been crystal clear.

Washington imposed sanctions on Syria in 2004, mainly for backing the Palestinian Hamas movement and the Shi'ite Hezbollah group in Lebanon.
I'm surprised and troubled by Specter, who has always been known as a friend of Israel. It's perfectly in character for Kerry and Dodd. When does Nelson stand for re-election again?


Post a Comment

<< Home